Alabama editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
Gadsden Times on Alabama’s special U.S. Senate race:
Alabama’s special U.S. Senate race of 2017 finally and irrevocably ended with the certification of Democrat Doug Jones as the winner.
We imagine most Alabamians, regardless of who they voted for on Dec. 12, were happy to see that coda. The past few months have been grueling, draining and at times embarrassing for this state and its residents.
Loser Roy Moore was an exception. His campaign filed lawsuit attempting to stop the certification of Jones, alleging there were irregularities if not outright fraud in the election, which Moore lost by close to 22,000 votes, and calling for a new election.
The case was quickly thrown out of court, and we don’t see how any judge in the country could’ve done otherwise.
Moore’s supporting evidence included a polygraph test “proving” he was telling the truth that he didn’t do anything improper with the women whose accusations from years ago turned the race into a spectacle that attracted journalists from across the planet.
That had nothing to do with voter fraud, of course, although an experienced judge and prosecutor also should know that polygraph tests aren’t admissible in Alabama courts unless both sides agree to it.
Also, one of the experts who offered proof the election was fraudulent is a JFK conspiracy theorist, and another once accused Israeli agents of masterminding the 9/11 attacks (we wonder how the latter is playing with Moore’s base).
Honestly, Moore had nothing and the certification rightfully proceeded. It was done by three Republican state officeholders — Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill.
They couldn’t have had smiles on their faces while proclaiming someone from the opposition party as Alabama’s new U.S. senator, but they did their jobs because, as trite as this verbiage has become over the years, the people spoke on Dec. 12.
Moore, however, still isn’t listening.
He’s yet to speak the words “I concede,” although that’s irrelevant. Concession speeches by a defeated candidate are a custom not required by law. Moore’s opponents who keep harping on it just want to see the man grovel, when they ought to celebrate their victory and move on.
What’s more problematic is that Moore still seems dumbfounded by the loss.
Alabama remains a red, conservative, predominantly evangelical Christian state. There are some trends among young voters that should concern the GOP, plus minority voters were super energized in this election, but those who think this result was the green flag to a political upheaval here need to get a grip.
Jones certainly has, signaling almost immediately his willingness to reach across the aisle in the Senate and work with Republicans when it’s in Alabama’s interests. We’ll see what kind of senator he is, but he has a strongly developed sense of self-preservation.
Moore thought he could show up, lead the crowd in a few choruses of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” talk about God and the U.S. Constitution and the evil swamp-dwellers in Washington, and cruise into the Senate.
Well, as noted, Alabamians remain a pious lot. They still revere the Constitution, and distrust the federal government and folks on both sides in Congress.
They just don’t want this particular flawed paladin to carry their banner. Will he get the message? No bet.
Decatur Daily on improving Alabama’s image:
Alabamians are hopeful the ringing in of a new year brings a measure of sanity to politics in the Heart of Dixie.
The waning hours of 2017 offered a touch of closure to another year of embarrassing shenanigans that kept the state under the glare of the national limelight. The less than positive developments rippled through the upper echelons of state government, and eventually touched the halls of the U.S. Senate.
Last year began under a cloud of political controversy that had rocked the state in 2016. Leaders of all three branches of government came under fire. Chief Justice Roy Moore defied a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, and was suspended. Gov. Robert Bentley’s questionable relationship with one of his political aides spawned legislative efforts to have him impeached. And Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was convicted on 12 felony ethics charges and was removed from office.
The sagas of Moore and Bentley spilled into 2017. Bentley’s appointment of Luther Strange to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Sessions angered many state leaders and citizens, opening the door for Moore to defeat Strange in a Republican primary runoff.
Hounded by calls for his resignation, Bentley finally stepped down as governor in April to avoid facing possible felony charges and the loss of his medical license. Moore’s hopes of winning the U.S. Senate seat held briefly by Strange were dashed Dec. 12 when he lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
The other Alabama government official to smear the state’s political image in 2017 was former Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur. In late September, Hammon agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to convert campaign account donations to his personal bank accounts. The majority leader of the House was removed from office after his plea agreement.
Hopefully, this string of bad political decisions and actions will come to a close in 2018.
Gov. Kay Ivey, 72, took over the state’s top office with a pledge to “steady the Ship of State and improve Alabama’s image.” She has managed to set a more positive course, and that offers promise for continued improvement.
However, the real gauge of Ivey’s success will be her ability to get legislators to take action on some of the state’s lingering financial issues. She has hinted the state may seek to solve its burgeoning prison system problems through privatization. Lawmakers must determine how to fund the increasing costs of Medicaid. More revenue is desperately needed for state agencies that have weathered funding cutbacks in recent years.
Ivey has her work cut out for her. It’s an election year, which generally means incumbents will be unwilling to consider the kind of tax measures that could help the state begin the climb out of its fiscal hole.
But lawmakers can make a pact among themselves to encourage the greater values of trust, fairness and benevolence when conducting their political business. Doing so would go a long way in helping the state improve its image.
Dothan Eagle on cold weather:
Fire departments are reporting an uptick in residential fires, several of which have been attributed to heating sources. And with the frigid weather expected to stick around until at least this weekend, there may well be more.
The Dothan Fire Department hopes to head off some of those tragedies by reminding us of some rules of thumb for cold weather. Most of them are simply common sense:
— Don’t use gasoline or other flammable liquids, or paper, to start fires in a fireplace. Use only natural logs or commercially developed starter logs.
— Don’t plug space heaters into extension cords. Space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.
— Keep space heaters at least three feet away from material that may catch fire.
— Have fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a licensed chimney sweep.
— At the very least, equip your home with smoke detectors. The Dothan Fire Department has a program through which firefighters, if requested, will bring you a smoke detector without charge.
We’d add a few additional tips - remember your pipes, and leave one dripping to mitigate the chances of bursting. And take care of your pets.
Americans of a certain age associate the phrase “three-dog night” with a popular band from the 1970s with a string of hits such as “Shangri-La,” ″Black and White,” and “Joy to the World.” But in Australia, where the saying originated, it’s associated with bitter cold.
To fend off the cold, Australian bushmen would sleep with their dogs, and would measure the ferocity of the temperature in terms of how many dogs were necessary to stay warm.
Despite the Outback practice of sleeping outdoors with dogs, pet owners should bring their animals inside during cold weather. South Alabama dogs and cats are no more accustomed to freezing temperatures than their humans are.